Jan 19 2006

Pup 4: Toots

Published by at 4:28 pm under Foster Dogs

January 19, 2006

When I woke up today I never expected I’d have a dog three hours later, but c’est la vie (or sessed la veee according to a certain person who will remain unidentified).

En route to lunch I dropped by the animal rescue place, and before I could stop my mouth it volunteered me to foster a pup. I scanned the crates looking for possibilities in the big-dog range. “What about that one?” I asked, pointing to a clumsy mutt with blonde dreadlocks. But big dogs appear not to be my destiny. These three were the ones who needed a temporary home:

1. A toothpick-legged four-year-old in a red fleece sweater…

2. A tiny terrified terrier…

3. A bat-eared, football-sized dude…

I chose Contestant Number Two, just in from a Central Valley shelter known for the health problems its inhabitants develop there. If all goes well, Toots will stay with me till he recovers from an abscess and then gets neutered next week. Hopefully he’ll be a little less timorous by then too.

January 20

I’ve decided a dog can be forgiven for being small as long as he’s got good ears. These are good ears:

January 21

Here’s part of what I wrote for the pet adoption agency:

Toots has been a perfect guest: responsive, affectionate, undemanding and housebroken. He loves hanging out at our feet or on our laps, and doesn’t complain when it’s time to stay in his crate.


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Because he’s extremely sensitive to loud sounds, sudden movements, new people and unknown situations, I’d think he’d do best in a quiet household. However, I’ve never seen his fear turn to defensive behavior. Even when I gave him a much-needed bath, he didn’t show even a tiny bit of aggression. He’s shown no signs of food or toy aggression either.


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He’s still extremely timid, but with love and encouragement his, uh, “inner puppy” bursts out, full of play and fun and humor. Often his tail doesn’t wag so much as vibrate. His favorite game is fetch with a squeaky ball, and his favorite resting spot is on a lap with his little nose tucked into the crook of an arm….

January 24

Poor hound. He’s come down with a thousand bad things, at least 985 of which dwell in his intestine and occasionally sneak a peek at the world outside. He also has kennel cough that has turned into pneumonia, causing him to go honh honh honh honh honh honh every few minutes; it sounds as though a gaggle of geese is migrating underfoot. He follows each sequence with a flourish: ark argh arghhhhh hch hacch … hwaaaaaach. As I clean up each resultant pukey spot, he’s off to create another.


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I’m embarrassed when I take him for his late-night walk. His bugling cough echoes among the silent, darkened houses. Shadows appear in windows. Curtains part. Curious eyes fall upon a solitary woman looking innocently up at the stars, or over at the trees, or off into the hills — everywhere but down at the honking, yorking creature by her feet: Dog? What dog? Whoah … how did that get onto my leash!

What Toots has to look forward to, as soon as his health returns, is his Little Procedure at the vet. Maybe that’s why he’s taking so long to get well.

January 29

Toots in on the mend at last. Today’s the first day in nearly a week that he’s played with his toys. He even wagged his tail.


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February 15

Well, Toots didn’t mend quite as quickly as I expected. But at last he went for his neutering surgery last week. When you’re Toots, nothing is easy; one of his testicles had sort of … Gone Fishin’. The medical term for the condition is positively florid: cryptorchid. (I know that crypto relates to things hidden or obscure, but I didn’t know that orchid means “testicle.” To my unscientific mind it’s not a very manly word. “Boy, does that guy have orchids!” It lacks a certain … je ne sais quoi.

Anyway, Toots’ operation required abdominal surgery in addition to the usual stuff. But today, recovered at last, he went back to the pet rescue place, seeking adoption. In parting he peed in my kitchen floor. Fewer than twelve hours later, a whole new dog did worse on my bedroom carpet.

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